Friday, December 5, 2008
My first solo apartment was up in Rhinebeck, NY, where I floundered through nine strange and lonely months after dropping out of college, halfway through my junior year. I was up there working with emotionally disturbed adolescent girls at The Astor Home for Children, and trying to live through a string of phenomenally bad choices. The kids (all too damaged to find homes in foster care) left an unhealable wound in my heart; and I still think of them, often. It was soul-crushing work, really, and I found myself in need of comfort almost all the time. (Which is how I came to fall back into old bad habits, drinking and smoking much too much for a while, but that's another story.)
I found refuge at the Copper Kettle II - a diner where I ate lunch or breakfast almost every day before my shift, and where the ancient waitresses looked after me and kept the tuna melts and lemon pie coming all through that long, snowy winter and cold, rainy spring. (By the time summer came I was starting to search for an exit, and fall found me back on the UWS.)
Toad-in-the-Hole, a Copper Kettle breakfast special, is pure Americana. To me it seemed almost exotic, I guess - the epitome of the non-Jewish, working class Hudson Valley where everything was different from the world I had known growing up. I made Toad-in-the-Hole for Bill this morning, tucking a little chopped ham under the egg and grating some fresh parmesan over the top. Still a marvelous, welcome comfort after all these years.